Kara Stokes, Business Development Executive at Dental Protection, provides a timely reminder that you are not alone – we are here to help
Relentless Australian bushfires followed by the outbreak of a global pandemic not only made 2020 a very challenging year, but we can still feel the effects that have carried on into 2021. COVID-19 has shaken us all and affected the way we live our lives and interact with one another. It felt like there was no time to catch our breath, and no end in sight.
Our dentolegal consultants were inundated with calls from distressed members who were unable to cope with the uncertainty they were faced with. We want to remind you that the team at Dental Protection is always here to support our members through difficult times, and we were able to offer financial relief to members last year when working hours were impacted and many practitioners’ roles were in a state of limbo. Although work has returned to normal for many, some of our members will find that their mental health has been less quick to recover.
What we are doing to help
Dental Protection is more focused than ever on the health and wellbeing of our members. In a survey that we ran in 2019 called Breaking the Burnout Cycle, 42% of respondents said they had considered leaving the profession for reasons of personal wellbeing. That was before COVID-19 hit! We understand that dentistry can be a struggle and takes its toll on practitioners even on a good day, let alone when dealing with the aftermath of a pandemic.
In consideration of the above, and Dental Protection’s ongoing commitment to positively influence the wellbeing of our members, we have taken additional steps by recently launching our wellbeing hub, available at dentalprotection.org/australia/wellbeing. This service endeavours to support members to take positive steps for their wellbeing and as explained in detail below, includes free access to counselling, a raft of resources, podcasts and webinars, as well as the wellbeing app eCare from ICAS.
Dental Protection members have access to counselling for work-related issues or stress that they feel could impact their practice, such as burnout, anxiety and conflict. Our counselling service is provided by our trusted partners ICAS, who offer a personalised and professional service tailored specifically to the member’s requirements and delivered by experienced, qualified counsellors. Members can access telephone support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and face-to-face counselling sessions can be arranged if necessary. Please rest assured that the service is entirely confidential and independent of Dental Protection – any member’s contact with ICAS will remain private.
We also have a not-to-be-missed podcast on sleep disorders. In it, Dr Pallavi Bradshaw, Medicolegal Lead of Risk Prevention at Dental Protection, talks to Dr David O’Regan, Consultant Psychiatrist and Sleep Specialist at the Sleep Disorders Centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital. Exploring the potential impact of the COVID-19 crisis on sleep and wellbeing, this podcast offers practical tips and techniques to help improve sleep during a time of worry and uncertainty.
We have a recorded webinar that is accessible through our online e-learning platform, Prism, called Building Resilience and Avoiding Burnout. The webinar looks at how increasing demands placed upon the modern clinician means measurable burnout is significantly growing among the profession. Dr Suzy Jordache and Dr David Monaghan will walk you through these demands to help inform and empower practitioners to manage this threat to themselves as well as patient safety.
We also have a recorded lecture called Under Pressure, which looks at the internal and external pressures of being a dental practitioner and how to recognise and manage them. Dr Annalene Weston and Dr Samantha King explore the causes and consequences of this strain, both from the pressure cooker of the surgery and our own internal stresses.
If you’re one of many practitioners who suffer back pain, there is also a helpful article written by Ian Homan, where he provides his top tips for staying healthy and avoiding back pain in your practice. While the health of your back may not be your primary focus, there are some things you need to consider to make sure that your back (pain) doesn’t become all you can think about later in your career. The greatest amount of postural stress associated with dental practice is found in the upper thoracic and cervical spine. Ian’s article will take you through some tips to help avoid and alleviate these common issues.
The eCare app offers members a fun and interactive way to monitor, measure and promote balanced healthy living and enables you to keep on top of your wellbeing with recipes, articles and advice. It also allows members to take positive steps in self-improvement with five-day challenges, wellness assessments, personal health reports and interactive quizzes, and the team strongly encourages members to download and access this fabulous new resource.
Taking care of ourselves
Looking to the future, we are yet to discover the fallout and long-term implications from such unprecedented times. How will things evolve, and what will our new normal look like? We know that these times of uncertainty can lead to added stress and that all of us have been impacted in some way. It is important that we take extra care to look after ourselves during these tough times, as without this first step, it is impossible to continue to care for others, whether that be our friends and family, or patients.